Homeland’s summer picnics fire up the fun


Kelly Calaman Betty Wise Jane Krebs for website minEnjoying the warm weather during one of Homeland Center’s recent picnics, resident Pete Patton and his daughter, Deb Herneisey, said it reminded them of past family get-togethers.

“We had a fire pit before fire pits were in style!” said Deb, recalling the family’s “wienie roasts,” where they cooked hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire. Pete, a retired lineman who was often called to manage challenging situations, has been at Homeland for more than four years. “I love it,” he said. “The people are all nice.”

Organized by Homeland staff and supported by Board of Managers members, the Wednesday summer picnics offer a chance for residents to visit with family and friends.

Homeland’s unique Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion provides the perfect picnic spot. Added to Homeland’s lush Fifth Street gardens in 2012, the pavilion honors a former resident who was Harrisburg’s youngest fire chief and Pennsylvania’s first state fire commissioner. A gentle breeze, helped by ceiling fans whirring overhead, kept the atmosphere cool and comfortable.

“We’re hot dog people,” said Jane Krebs, who joined her mother, Betty Wise. “We camped. Mom camped, and when I got married, we camped until the kids were in high school.”

Betty enjoyed her hot dog and was also looking forward to a lunchtime excursion planned by Homeland the next day to popular riverfront restaurant Duke’s Bar & Grille, in nearby Wormleysburg.

Aveya McNealy for websiteBetty’s son-in-law, Jerry Krebs, also joined the family outing. His mother was a Homeland resident who “loved it here,” he said.

He appreciated the ongoing additions to Homeland’s facility that enhance quality of life, such as the breezy pavilion.

“I’ve always been impressed with Homeland,” Jerry said. “They’ve done an excellent job. The personnel have been very good. I probably know five or six of the staff very well.”

And what picnic would be complete without watermelon for dessert? Activities Coordinator Aveya McNealy, who offered watermelon slices to all the picnickers, joined Homeland in early spring 2017.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s great to have the interaction with the residents, getting to sit and talk with them, and learning their backgrounds.”

As for the ability of residents to host their families for the picnics, Aveya said, “That’s the best part.”